Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos is bewailing the accusations of widespread cheating that took place in some places, especially in Mindanao, during the last elections. While he expressed alarm over the reports, he seems to be more sad over the controversy generated by the cheating than the cheating itself.
He said the allegations are putting into the question the credibility of the whole electoral exercise. The allegations are eroding the public’s trust on the Comelec.
We have news for Abalos. The people’s trust in the Comelec was eroded long before the May 14 elections. Has he already forgotten “Hello Garci”? Or the failure of the Comelec to thoroughly investigate the complicity of its officials in cooking the results to favor Gloria Arroyo? (Some of those officials were even promoted. One was assigned as provincial director for Maguindanao, with predictable results.) Or the gift by the Comelec of P1 billion in taxpayers money to Mega Pacific for an electronic vote-counting contract which the Supreme Court said was anomalously awarded, was overpriced and would not work?
In the run-up to the elections, the Comelec allowed itself to be used by persons who were out to deny Alan Peter Cayetano a seat in the Senate through the fielding of a nuisance.
It disqualified reelectionist Naga Mayor Jess Robredo, a Magsaysay awardee for government service, by declaring him a Chinese. Two of the commissioners who ruled against Robredo, it turned out, were former law partners of a Camarines Sur administration political leader who was fielding a relative against Robredo.
It accredited a clutch of newly surfaced party list groups with links to the Palace and one, purportedly composed of tricycle operators and drivers, whose president and No. 1 nominee is a medical doctor who just happens to be Abalos’ brother.
It played dumb to the suspicious surge in the number of registered voters in areas which were considered bailiwicks of administration. The biggest increases were in the Lanao provinces and Maguindanao where voting did not take place in many municipalities.
After the elections, we’re seeing more of the same. In Biñan, Laguna, canvassing was suspended for alleged irregularities committed by the leading mayoral candidate. Why Biñan when losing candidates practically everywhere were seeking the same relief for the same alleged offenses of the winners? It just so happens that a son-in-law of Abalos was trailing badly in the count.
Abalos and company should stop shedding crocodile tears for the lost credibility of the Comelec. If they sincerely want Comelec to recover its credibility, they should resign.